Lessons from the London Book Fair

 In All About Writing, Tips for Writers


The London Book Fair is one of the great marketplaces of the book industry. Richard and our associate Jo Carr (Our Honest Charlie Wood) were lucky enough to attend and shared some of their top tips for writers in an inspiring discussion. They also discussed traditional vs independent publishing and the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of publishing.

Top tips for writers:

  • Diversity is important in today’s market but only if it fits and doesn’t feel “shoe horned” in.
  • Don’t try to jump on the bandwagon of current trends, trends are short lived.
  • Certain themes, however, do have lasting appeal to readers.
  • Write for yourself rather than worrying about who will want to read your work.
  • Being authentic is what really draws readers in.
  • When in doubt keep writing.

Traditional vs independent publishing

Today’s publishing landscape is divided in two, between traditional and independent publishing. Traditional publishing means your manuscript is being published by an established publishing house, generally one of the so-called big five. Independent publishing generally refers to self-publishing. These two publishing worlds can seem at odds and it can be difficult for an author to know which route to take. In the webinar, Jo and Richard discussed the advantages and disadvantages of both forms of publishing.

Advantages of traditional publishing

  • You work with people who really know what they are doing in terms of editing, marketing, sales, etc.
  • It can be seen as a mark of quality or legitimacy.
  • Traditional publishers are able to maximise the potential of your book through their connections.
  • You are eligible for literary prizes.
  • You don’t take on the financial risk.

Advantages of independent publishing

  • You are in control of everything.
  • You keep most of the royalties.
  • You will care about your books in a way that most publishers never will.

Disadvantages of traditional publishing

  • It is very difficult to be accepted by a traditional publisher.
  • You lose creative control over your work.
  • You only get a small percentage of the royalties.
  • If you are not one of their major publications, marketing your work may not be prioritised.

Disadvantages of independent publishing

  • You take on all the financial risk.
  • You have a to put a lot of work into marketing and sales.
  • It can be very difficult to break into the market and make sales.
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